Thursday, October 18, 2007

Longtime Bowling Fan Still In Search Of First Souvenir Ball

Springfield, IL (Oct. 18) - He's sat just about everywhere you can sit at a bowling tournament. He's tried directly behind the bowlers, off to the side, even two lanes over for a better angle. Yet despite over 25 years of faithful attendance at various bowling tournaments, matches, and company outings, Lester Miller hasn't snagged the White Whale of bowling fans: the wayward, souvenir ball.

"You don't know how many times I've taken my seat and looked around and thought, 'I'm in a good position for a ball,'" Miller, 66, said as he prepared to watch last Saturday's Michelin Open in Akron, Ohio. "But it just never seems to happen."

Miller has been close, though.

"Back in 1988, I was in Pensacola, Florida watching the Senior Open," Miller said as he kept one eye on the bowlers as he talked to his interviewer. "And Dick Webber brought his ball back in his backswing and -- whoop -- it flew plum out of his hand."

Miller, though, wasn't quick enough as the 16-pound ball landed about two rows to his right.

"Some lucky kid got it. He was attending his very first bowling tournament. Unbelievable," Miller said, shaking his head.

Miller admits wayward bowling balls aren't nearly as common as, say, foul balls at baseball games. But they occur just often enough to give him hope every time he takes in a match.

"Boy, if I could ever snag one," Miller said, his eyes lighting up. "I already have a place on my mantle reserved for that first ball. Although I had to expand it, so the ball will fit." He added that he had a specially-built holder -- "kind of a baseball holder on steroids," he calls it -- made that can accomodate up to a 20-pound ball.

Miller says that bowling balls usually fly into the crowd during hot, muggy days when the bowlers' hands are more likely to be slippery with sweat.

He ended the interview as the players took the lanes to warm up. And there Miller sat, oversized baseball catcher's glove in hand, at the ready -- in case he finds his Moby Dick of bowling.

No comments: